The Ultimate Guide to the UK's Unesco Sites


Aug 05, 2014 by British Blog

Established in November 1945, the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) is a body dedicated to tackling key issues that affect our world. One of their best-known initiatives is the identification and preservation of prominent landmarks across the world – the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

With 28 sites located in the UK, taking a holiday on home soil has never been more tempting for those with a love of history and culture. Here we take a brief look at each of the attractions on UNESCO’s list.


1. Blaenavon Industrial Landscape

A recent addition from the turn of the millennium, this Welsh attraction is a lasting reminder of how Welsh coal once powered the industries of the world.


2. Blenheim Palace

A long-standing entry dating back to 1987, this stunning piece of architecture is set in 2,000 acres of sensational parkland and was the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.


3. Canterbury Cathedral, Augustine’s Abbey & St. Martin’s Church

Found in England’s south-east, this addition from 2000 boasts plenty of charm, character and history with stone walls and traditional stained glass windows immaculately maintained.


4. Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd 

Sitting just the other side of Snowdonia National Park and added in 1986, these extremely well-preserved monuments were created by renowned military engineer James of St George.


5. City of Bath

With its historic Roman baths and stunning landmarks, this city is an obvious inclusion from 1987.


6. Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape

Only added in 2006, this entry represents the industrial significance of England’s south-west coast.


7. Derwent Valley Mills

The birthplace of water-powered textile production, Derwent Valley Mills is an 18th Century marvel added to the list in 2001.


8. Durham Castle and Cathedral

Inscribed into the list in 1986, Durham Castle is now the illustrious home of Durham University. 


9. Frontiers of the Roman Empire

Another addition from the 1980s, these fortifications were added to the list in 1987 and include the famous Hadrian’s Wall.


10. Heart of Neolithic Orkney

Added in 1999, the archaeology of this remote Scottish area has made it a popular destination for many years.


11. Historic Town of St George and Related Fortifications

Located in Bermuda and inscribed in 2000, this attraction is one of the earliest examples of English settlement in the New World; founded in 1612.


12. Ironbridge Gorge

Added in 1986, Ironbridge Gorge is affectionately known as the “birthplace of industry” and contains ten award winning museums in the local area.


13. Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City

With a long and detailed history, Liverpool’s entry onto the World Heritage Site list in 2004 was an obvious choice with six distinctive historic areas giving it unparalleled heritage status.


14. Maritime Greenwich

Added in 1997, attractions here include the Cutty Sark, Old Royal Naval College and National Maritime Museum.


15. New Lanark

This Scottish village is famous for its historic mills – joining UNESCO’s illustrious list in 2001.


16. Old and New Towns of Edinburgh

A city of two faces, Edinburgh continues to intrigue modern visitors with its secret old city landscape which was officially recognised, along with new town features, in 1995.


17. Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal

Added in 2009, this Welsh canal and waterfall system contains two impressive aqueducts that are a sight to behold.


18. Royal Botanic Gardens

Since they were founded in 1759, Kew Gardens have been a popular landmark – earning their place amongst UNESCO’s favourites in 2003.


19. Saltaire

Saltaire Village is known for its impressive landscapes and prominent textile mill; earning World Heritage status in 2001.


20. Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites

An earlier addition to the list from 1986, the mysteries of Stonehenge and associated sites in the Salisbury Plain continue to fascinate and captivate. 


21. Studley Royal Park (including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey)

Another 1986 addition, this Cistercian Abbey and Georgian Water Garden are obvious cultural attractions.


22. Tower of London

Famous for imprisonment, conspiracy and the Crown Jewels, more than 1,000 years of history are contained inside the walls of this 1988 addition. 


23. Westminster Palace

Added in 1987, Westminster Palace is one of London’s most identifiable landmarks and the seat of the British

Government. The original structure dates back to the Middle Ages with a rebuild occurring between 1840 and 1870.


24. Westminster Abbey and Saint Margaret’s Church

Sat beside Westminster Palace, this famous abbey and church date back to the 10th Century and provide a glowing example of Gothic architecture which was also recognised in 1987.


25. Dorset and East Devon Coast

Also known as the Jurassic Coast, this 2001 addition was an obvious choice given its high volume of fossils and the fact its land covers three geological time periods (Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous).


26. Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast

Located in Northern Ireland, this 1986 addition is famous for its lunar landscape of large rocks and deep sea walls.


27. Henderson Islands

This uninhabited reef made it onto the list in 1988 and is famous for its endemic bird and plant species.


28. St Kilda

Added in 1986, St Kilda is an archipelago found in the most remote part of the British Isles recognised for its exceptional natural beauty.